As I was touching up my “Getting to ‘No’ You” curriculum, I realized that most of us have activity management lapses; it’s not really time management – each day has the same hours – it’s how we manage our activities in the time we have.
When your plate is overloaded what can you set aside until your priority activity/project is finished? Who can you say “no” to until your plate is empty -or at least open for more activity? Each person I ask about saying “no” says one of three reasons why the word “no” isn’t really in their vocabulary:
1. I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings
2. I want to be a go-to person
3. I don’t want to feel guilty
Do these resonate with you? Have you survived someone saying “no” to you? Most likely. Yes, “no” is a hard word to use, and yet, it’s one with power.
Stand up for your values and goals, stop being reactive to others and forge ahead with your responsibilities and self-respect.
Each morning we start anew even when we’re going back to our desks to finish activities we started earlier. Many times we make lists of what we have to do, where we have to go, whom we have to meet, etc. etc. That list either gets shorter or longer! Do you make lists and then realize that your time’s out and you haven’t completed the tasks?
I watch Turner Classic Movies – oldie, but goodie films – and a ten-minute short was on last weekend: “An Hour For Lunch.”(1939) The main character sits at his desk and reads his list of errands he wants to finish on his one-hour lunch break, including having lunch:
- Get his hair cut
- Return a shirt
- Eat lunch at the drugstore
- Call the upholsterer while at the drug store
As the hour clock starts ticking he heads out of the building only to face multiple time-zapping incidents:
- Waiting for the elevator
- A full elevator, “Sorry, you have to wait for the next one.”
- A busy-body co-worker wanting to chat
- The barber not ready for him
- His forgotten shirt to return
- A vendor selling cute toys; he stops and buys one
- The lunch counter is full
- He has to look up the upholsterer’s number in the phone book, then go to the phone booth
- He forgets the last few digits of the phone number and has to go back to the phone book
- Someone quickly steps into the booth before he can get back…
As you can imagine his hour accomplishes almost nothing. He woofs down half of his sandwich and then rushes back to his desk.
Do you relate to the list and the activity time? How often do you think it’ll take only so much time and it takes twice that long? How often do you rush to a meeting across town and meet up with a traffic jam? How often do you get a phone call as you walk out the door, or get interrupted as you’re writing that proposal? It’s these activities that you might consider – an extra :15 for travel, maybe? – or ignoring, in order to get the one priority task completed.
Turn off your Outlook pop-up for e-mails, turn off your phone and it’s incessant IM dings or phone calls, shut your door or say “no” politely to someone coming into your office if the door’s open: Express your “yes,” and Know your “no.” Express your “yes” to get your priorities accomplished, know your “no” to the little time wasters and interrupters.
The next time you make of list of the errands, the projects, the calls, the important facets of your day check it twice to cross off all of them and get a fresh start on your new day. Express your “yes,” and Know your “no.”